Anthony Albanese has told the Matildas to “watch this space” for an announcement in regards to more funding for women's sport in Australia, after deputy PM Richard Marles pointed to the significant amount the government already poured into the World Cup. Several Matildas players called on the government to increase funding and initiatives for women's sport after their loss to England in the semi-final on Wednesday night.
While Matildas mania certainly took over the country during their historic run, many players and commentators pointed out the importance of capitalising on the momentum. On Friday, Mr Albanese suggested that a significant announcement is coming.
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“You’ll see announcements at an appropriate time,” he said on Sky News. “We‘ve been considering issues of sporting infrastructure for a long time. Unfortunately, the previous government gave funding to clubs that didn’t even have women’s teams. It was a debacle."
A government spokesperson had earlier said: “We are determined to help girls inspired by the FIFA World Cup, Netball World Cup, women’s basketball and rugby world cups have safer facilities to enjoy sport for life. We want more opportunities for more Matildas. This tournament has been incredible and proven that women’s sport isn’t a phase, it’s here to stay.
“We have spent significant money on women’s football, committing more than $84 million to support the Women’s World Cup and its legacy. We committed $44 million for the hosting of the tournament and a further $40 million for grassroots programs like MiniRoos and the first-ever home of women’s football.”
Deputy Prime Minister Marles also said on Friday: "A lot of money has been spent on women’s sport. Firstly, we put $84 million into this World Cup, this Women’s World Cup, and $40 million of that was into grassroots sport for girls taking up football.
“I’m sure government will look at this to look at how we can use this to see more women playing sport. I just think it’s about greater equality for women and men both on the field and off the field. This is a huge moment for the country.”
Matildas players call for more funding for women's sport
Speaking after Wednesday night's semi-final, Matildas captain Sam Kerr said: "I can only speak for the Matildas. We need funding in our development. We need funding in our grassroots. We need funding. We need funding everywhere.
"The comparison to other sports isn't really good enough. And hopefully this tournament changes that because that's the legacy you leave — not not what you do on the pitch. The legacy is what you do off the pitch. And hopefully, I mean, it's hard to talk about now, but hopefully that this is the start of something new."
Vice-captain Steph Catley said she hoped the World Cup was "just the beginning" for women's sport. "When you look at football in general in Australia - football is very much not funded the way it should be," she said.
"There's no argument now that people aren't interested. People are interested. The numbers are there. Kids are playing. People want to be watching the sport. So yeah, hopefully this has just been enough to prove that and to create the argument and to improve facilities, improve standards for women in football, football in general."
Veteran midfielder Emily van Egmond added: "My message is that I hope that this is just the beginning and that they continue to support this team. Because like we see if you invest in women's football, you can see the growth of it and hopefully this is just the start."
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